Report: 90% probes into attacks against Palestinians close with no indictment
Human rights organization Yesh Din releases data showing only small number of police investigations into offenses committed by settlers against Palestinians in West Bank end with indictments filed against defendants. Police say data inaccurate, a respectable number of files reach court
The report includes 205 inquiry files opened in recent years, out of which police processing and prosecutorial review have concluded in only 163 files. Out of those 163, only in 13 (8%) of the cases were indictments filed against defendants.
Yesh Din followed the processing by investigation and prosecution bodies of three main
categories of complaints: Offenses of various kinds of assaults, trespassing on Palestinian
land and offenses of causing damage to Palestinian property.
Out of 81 investigation files concerned with assault offenses, the processing of 62 has been completed. In 53 of the cases the investigation was closed.
Seventy-nine of the cases monitored by Yesh Din are concerned with the offense of criminal trespass and accompanying offenses: Cutting down, uprooting and setting fire to
olive and other fruit trees, seizing land, damaging crops, stealing olive sacks during the
harvest season and others. The police recommended filing indictments in only five of these cases.
In 22 investigation files concerned with damage to Palestinian property – theft, arson, vandalizing agricultural equipment and damage to other property – not one indictment was filed.
Following the findings, the organization asked for the police's explanation on the small number of cases ending with indictments. According to the police, 91 investigation files were closed on grounds of "perpetrator unknown" and 43 cases were closed on grounds of "lack of evidence".
In addition, one case was closed on grounds of "lack of public interest" and nine cases were closed based on "no criminal culpability."
'Settlers violent against Israelis, soldiers as well'
Lior Yavne, who oversees Yesh Din's research, data collection and public information, said that the police and State Prosecutor's Office must conduct a thorough self-examination due to the severe findings.
"In the end of 2006 we revealed the many failures and shortcomings leading to failure in 90% of the police investigations into Israeli civilians' offenses against Palestinians. The fact that the failure rate remains as it was, obligates the police and the State Prosecutor's Office to take real measures in order to fix the failures we revealed in the investigation files," he said.
According to the organization, the settlers' violence will eventually be directed also at security forces personnel serving in the area.
"The weak hand refraining from enforcing the law against Israelis living in the West Bank causes the State of Israel to violate its moral and international duties towards the people we control. And as has been proven in the past, wrongdoing against Palestinians which is not enforced by the law will also be directed against security forces and Israeli civilians who are not part of the settlers' group," said Attorney Michael Sfarad, Yesh Din's legal advisor.
The Judea and Samaria District Police said in response to the report that a total of 550 investigation files into riots of Israelis against Palestinians, security forces and left-wing activists were opened in 2007. Out of all the files, only 195 dealt with attacks against Palestinians.
Out of the 323 files handed over to the State Prosecutor's Office, the police said, indictments were served in 69 cases of riots, and some 30 were opened following a complaint filed by a Palestinian against an Israeli. Out of all the investigation files handled last year, the prosecution obtained conviction in 83 files, some of which began before 2007.